Black Kids: The Young and the Reckless

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Photo by Fergus Padel
WRITTEN BY
Tim Chester

"I only do TV interviews nowadays," Ali Youngblood jokes backstage at Manchester University's Academy 3. A breathless monsoon of innuendo, wisecracks, and drawled chuckles, the 24-year-old keyboardist for one of the most talked-about bands of 2008 doesn't seem fazed by the attention. Sporting a perma-cocked eyebrow and playfully kicking her legs back and forth under her chair, she'd rather gamely chug her way through the not-unsubstantial volumes of alcohol on their rider and giggle coyly with her bandmates than discuss success. Meanwhile, Ali's older brother Reggie, 28, the band's songwriter, singer, and guitarist, is tuning a new guitar next to their rhythm section, drummer Kevin Snow, 28, and bassist Owen Holmes, 26. It seems like the right time to ask how Black Kids are dealing with life under the microscope, but Ali and fellow keyboardist Dawn Watley, 23, choose instead to switch the lights on and off and dance around to the New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" on repeat. Which I guess kind of answers my question.

An hour later: total anarchy. The frenetic backstage energy has metastasized and spread throughout the entire 450-capacity venue; about 35 hammered kids have jumped onstage and are going pogo crazy, snatching mics and drums from the band, who are desperately trying to keep going. There's a mosh pit stretching to the back of the hall, and bouncers are scrambling to sort things out. While burly men with earpieces unload fans off the stage one by one, the shouty synth peals of the band's signature tune "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You" screech to a gloriously shambolic halt.

The Jacksonville, Florida five are currently screaming round the U.K. to promote their just-released debut album of lovelorn party soundtracks, appropriately titled Partie Traumatic. Despite this being their third tour of the country this year alone, all dates are sold out and they're finding themselves pulled in every direction by frothing fans and fawning press and a full docket of TV and radio appearances, including a slot on the prestigious Friday Night With Jonathan Ross (the British equivalent of The Tonight Show). England, it would seem, has Black Kids fever.

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